How to Make Professional Friends
admin, April 25, 2012
"Godfather, be my friend," a man pleads as he kisses Don Vito's hand. The former was really asking of a favor. The Godfather knew. It's VERY LIKELY those on your 'let's be pals' radar know your immediate intentions too. It's okay; be aware of their awareness and proceed…naturally.
I've been pretty successful in making friends throughout my life. I'm actually pretty cool; but, that's for me to know and others to notice. In social life, I can be a bit lax, allowing things to happen at a gradual pace. I'm a tough sell. I'm not going to 'be down' with just anyone. In my professional life, things are a bit different, warranting a mixture of friendly and professional sentiments; but, I'm very similar to other professionals in that regard too. I'm not going to be 'cool' with just anyone. If I did want to begin a relationship, I would go about it in the following manner.
The Elephant in the Room
Have you ever engaged someone in conversation, knowing there is an ulterior motive for the union, yet it goes 'unpublished' in conversation. It makes for an awkward guessing game of what the other person is thinking. Be honest whenever approaching or PR pitching another professional. Would you like their help? Would you like them to read your blog? Would you like to be considered as a source in an article? All of these 'selfish' desires are acceptable; however, don't 'beat around the bush.' Just be direct. Being direct doesn't guarantee a disarming welcome; but, it does let the other person know you're a straight shooter, honest, and not wasting their time.
Some time ago, I wanted to guest post on Mike King's blog. I hit him up in an email; and, though may have been a bit complimentary in the opening, I was succinct in my intentions. I wanted a social media post on ipullrank's blog; however, it was important to offer something to Mike's readers too. Why else would he accept if I wasn't creating some sort of value? Mike posted on the wrong and right way to ask for a guest post.
My mom thinks I'm special; that goes along with the job. I know. Do others? Perhaps, but it's because I earned their respect. I did; I inspired; I worked; I expressed; I did a number of things to openly demonstrate (out in the practical, wide-open world) I can offer some sort of value. Think of other professionals as active musicians. By adding your presence, does their professional world become more harmonious? If not, they're likely to want you to 'sit this number out.' Maybe you can try-out again when you have something of value to offer.
Value is subjective; but, the need to offer 'something' is an objective reality. What can you offer?
- Humor (maybe you make them laugh with your take on the industry)
- Research (maybe you've crunched a lot of data, elucidating a new trend or previously unseen 'truth')
- Exposure (maybe you have a high number of followers and can introduce a personality to a new pool of subscribers and vice versa)
- Guidance (perhaps you have experience in a particular area and can offer insight)
Think about what you can add. It's a delicate dance of give and take. If you're not offering anything valuable, there's no reason for professionals to jump at the chance to 'make friends.' Many will question why you thought a union with them was apropos in the first place. Have you researched?
I recently read a great explanation of why doing your homework in a respective vertical is important. You see, it's not about 'just getting exposure.' It's about finding the right fit; it's about making the right kind of relationships. I'm a writer. Is making a contact with NASA the right fit though NASA is an incredibly respected entity? Unless NASA wants me to help them with content marketing, the relationship is ill fitting. I'd be better off finding better niches, befitting to my networking wishes.
Check out Chris Dyson's post on chasing footprints for linkbuilding. Knowing the right paths to venture is crucial. Next, don't forget to familiarize yourself with the personality of interest. That's how you would normally go about making relations and conversation, right? Consider the alternative:
If you are going to pitch me, at least check out my freakin' site first. Otherwise, I just hit the "delete" button. Sheesh! :)
You've heard of link building, the reason why many people approach others for immediate connections. Awesome, you've made a connection and got a valuable link. The link is good in and out itself; but, I liken the process as getting the opportunity to shake the Dali Lama's hand but not engaging him in conversation.
The reason it's so important to research relations above, is because like online marketing, relations take time to build momentum and strength. What's better, getting one guest post link or cultivating a relationship, resulting in future guest spots, insight and guidance, introduction to other 'doors' of opportunity and personalities, etc? Lightning storms are pretty and exciting; but, the excitement is short-lived. I'd rather invest in my time in building lasting weather patterns.
Pro tip: PR (I think of it as peer relations) is not for everyone. Are you stuck in a connection rut? Do you wonder why you and yours are shunned by others? Something is off; you're doing something wrong.
Do you see relationships merely as a means to an end? If so, PR is not for you. You don't 'get it.' No matter how much work you put in, you're likely missing an integral piece of the puzzle. PR is a practice for the genuine and forthright. You can roll your eyes all you want at these sentiments. Go ahead and try to prove me wrong. The following video is for those interested in building real relations with peers. All others need not apply.
Which camp does your approach fall under? I can tell (I'm just nice about openly id-ing the former group.) Don't be foolish. Others, who are PR savvy, can 'see' your approach too.